Last Night: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony at the House of Blues

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
House of Blues
October 27, 2010

Better than: missing your Uncle George, y'all.

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony still have it. Check a full slideshow from last night's performance right here.
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony still have it. Check a full slideshow from last night's performance right here.
Kevin Todora
The 15 years that have followed the release of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's seminal 1995 disc, E. 1999 Eternal, haven't been all that great for the Cleveland rap collective. Egos blew up, personalities clashed, and arrests--as they so often tend to--made matters even worse.

And yet, somehow, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony has carried on. Sure, Bizzy Bone left, but the band's kept going, releasing six albums more albums. Unsurprisingly, though, none has matched the alluring mix of rapid-fire lyricism and R&B harmonies of E. 1999 Eternal. Few discs, though, can: That album, which features the band's biggest hits in "Tha Crossroads" and "1st Of Tha Month," went 10 times platinum, reaching the coveted, but rarely achieved, diamond record status.

A major seller like that is quite the nice line to have on your resume. It's perhaps the greatest single entity that a musical act can keep in its back pocket. Because, bad as things may get, you can always fall back on that one moment in the sun.

And, really, that's basically the idea behind this tour, which celebrates the 15th anniversary of E. 1999 Eternal's release. Those songs, the group knew, were what the 500 or so fans who came to the House of Blues last night wanted to hear anyway.

Might as well make a big deal out of it.

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And, really, the four members of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony night--Krayzie Bone, Layzie Bone, Wish Bone and Flesh-N-Bone (Bizzy Bone was kicked out of the collective in 2003)--knew exactly how to do that. The crew may be a little older these days, but they can still rap with jaw-dropping speed, and can still harmonize like few other rap collectives can.

That was always Bone Thugs' draw--hip-hop with a touch of soul, music with a little more thought put into the hook than just a clever quip--and, as the four rappers performed with one another onstage last night, backed by a three-piece live band, it made for a pleasant watch. it sure didn't look like a group trotting out for a quick payday, either--the group genuinely seemed to be in a good place last night, reunited with the recently released-from-prison Flesh, and proud of its body of work.

Perhaps too proud, though: Sure, the band hit on most of its big E. 1999 Eternal tracks, but a late start and a few too many diversions--a segment honoring Eazy-E, Tupac and Notorious B.I.G., a few too many get-the-crowd-hype bits, the inclusion of the band's Notorious B.I.G. collaboration, "Notorious Thugs," in the set list--kept the band from finishing the album entirely before the House of Blues stage crew pulled the plug on the night, claiming its standard midnight curfew as the problem. That meant no "Mo Murda," among a few other songs missed from the group's seminal released, which would've made for nice inclusions.

Still, as a whole, the night served as a nice reminder of E. 199 Eternal's gravitas. That album still stands the test of time, a representation of the often ugly gang life of the early '90s, and the honest-to-goodness sentiment that comes hand-in-hand with that lifestyle. More than that, though, it was a reminder of how little thought so many modern MCs put into their music in the modern climate.

Sure, not even Bone Thugs can retain what it captured on that disc, but, the one time that it was able to do so, it sure made for a magical release.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
E. 1999 Eternal is one of my favorite hip-hop albums of all time--and, truly, it deserves inclusion when considering the best rap albums of all time. Bone Thugs' 1995 blend of speed, melody and harmony remains unmatched.

Random Note: There was a lot of marijuana in the House of Blues last night. An absurd amount. My eyes were screaming for moisture by the end of the night.

By The Way: I have no problem with the House of Blues factoring a midnight curfew. But I do have a problem with them not forcing the acts to get on stage early enough to get their sets finished in time. Bone Thugs brought seven of their own (ridiculously terrible) opening acts. Why did the House of Blues add another (quite bad, I might add) local rapper the bill? Also: Why does the House of Blues book such horrible local bands as openers? And why do hip-hop acts have to invite every member of their extended family to share a bill with them? Seriously: Before Bone Thugs came out, last night's show was just one terrible act after another terrible act--none of which boasted any talent or stage presence. It was bad. And the audience missed out on the headliners finishing their set because they all had to fit on the bill? I'm crying bullshit.

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